At 11.46am, Mr Justice Paul Carney brought an end to the horrific case that began with Ann Corcoran’s disappearance in January last year.
Just under an hour earlier, the 49-year-old painter was brought into Courtroom 2 from the holding cells below and sat quietly in a black suit, a white shirt that looked a little too big, and a black and grey tie.
Behind him, in the tiered public gallery, around 80 people could see just the back of his balding head as he sat alone, apart from two prison officers immediately behind him.
The crowd included more than a dozen relatives of Ann Corcoran, the 60-year-old widow he bludgeoned to death and whose body he dumped next to a quarry near Ballinspittle in west Cork before taking off on holiday with her money.
During most of the 40-minute hearing, the killer stared ahead almost blankly as the court heard the sequence of events already detailed to the Central Criminal Court during the 11-day trial in Dublin that led to his murder conviction last Thursday.
He gave away no signs of emotion throughout, looking mostly to the bench from where Mr Justice Carney also heard details of his previous convictions. The only thread of feeling he appeared to show, apart from the occasional heavy sigh, was a gulp when the inspector reminded the judge of trial evidence that Ms Corcoran had died in Hayes’s house while he slept downstairs on the night of January 19 last year.
The victim’s family members struggled at times to hold back tears, as they heard how the murderer tried to burn and dispose of her remains while they and hundreds of others were scouring the west Cork countryside for their beloved aunt and sister.
Hayes looked down at his hands clasped on his lap during the four minutes taken by Ms Corcoran’s 33-year-old nephew, Kevin Kelly, to read an emotional and loving description of his aunt. But he again showed no emotion minutes later, as he stood to hear the judge tell him he would not be released until some time in the distant future at the discretion of the Parole Board, having shown no remorse apart from the consideration given to the suffering of Ms Corcoran’s dogs as he left food for after them after her death while he went on holidays.
Ms Corcoran’s niece, Maureen O’Leary, expressed thanks to the gardaí and everyone involved in the case.
“Also to the vast amount of people who came out and searched for Ann through horrific conditions, both weather and terrain. And may she rest in peace,” Ms O’Leary told reporters.
Garda Superintendent Eddie MacEoin of Bandon garda district said he is very aware of the impact Hayes’s crime has had on people in west Cork, and urged anyone who is still fearful to contact their local Garda station, community alert or neighbourhood watch group.
“We will only be too glad to talk to you about it and put you at ease.
“That is the one major thing in this investigation, throughout we had the cooperation of everyone. Everyone in the Kilbrittain area that could search, searched with us.
“Anybody who couldn’t search helped to feed us and look after us in other ways. So I just want to thank the people of west Cork and further afield – indeed they came from everywhere, all over the country, to assist in this major investigation. I want to thank everyone for that,” Supt MacEoin said.